Melbourne Writers Festival: How Louis de Bernieres survived being a bestseller

The Dust that Falls from Dreams by Louis de Bernieres.
Nanjing Night Net

British novelist Louis de Bernieres will speak at the opening of the 30th Melbourne Writers Festival. Photo: Penny Stephens

British novelist Louis de Bernieres will speak at the opening of the 30th Melbourne Writers Festival. Photo: Penny Stephens

The Dust that Falls from Dreams by Louis de Bernieres.

British novelist Louis de Bernieres will speak at the opening of the 30th Melbourne Writers Festival. Photo: Penny Stephens

The Dust that Falls from Dreams by Louis de Bernieres.

British novelist Louis de Bernieres will speak at the opening of the 30th Melbourne Writers Festival. Photo: Penny Stephens

Louis de Bernieres. Photo: Penny Stephens

Read a review of The Dust That Falls from Dreams 

In the early part of his career, Louis de Bernieres, fuelled by coffee and cigarettes, wrote four novels within four years. He’s grateful that the first three had been published before the fourth, Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, became a gigantic hit, selling millions of copies.

It changed his life, bringing fame, fortune and critical acclaim. But without the early publishing experience, he doubts he would have been able to cope. “I would have spent the money, despaired – and taken to drugs and alcohol.”

The British novelist, fuelled these days by red wine (“it slows you up a bit”),  is in town to talk at Thursday’s opening of the 30th Melbourne Writers Festival.

“I was suddenly invited all over the world. People wanted to know what my favourite smell was and all that rubbish. I had less and less time to write and less continuous time in which I could concentrate.”

That was partly why his subsequent book, Birds Without Wings, took such a long time to write. “It was also the first time in my life I had any money and I spent quite a lot of the time spending the money rather than working.”

More recently he’s been hard at work on The Dust that Falls from Dreams, the first part of a trilogy inspired by the discovery that the grandfather who had vanished in the 1940s had been living in Canada until he died at the age of 96. “What that did was kick off a lot interesting possibilities.” The missing man had married de Bernieres’ grandmother, whose first fiance had been killed early in World War I.

While his subjects are often love and war – war, he says, brings out the strongest stories – de Bernieres baulks at the label of romantic novelist.

“I am very interested in love, but all the different kinds – the love between parents and children, between siblings, or between human beings and animals. There are so many different kinds of human love and I am determined not to get stuck on the romantic one. I’m probably more interested in how you love your daughter than how you love your wife.”

He knows where he’s heading with the trilogy, even if he hasn’t mapped the whole thing out. Indeed he’s written the last chapter: “I’m pleased with it because it’s in the form of an epitaph, so that’s sad but it implies a very happy ending.”

When he returns to England, he has another pressing task. Nelson Woss, producer of the film adaptation of his book Red Dog, has asked him to write the novelisation of the cinematic prequel, Blue Dog, that is in post-production.

“My first reaction was no chance, this is just prostitution. Then he sent me the script and it’s really good. I’m going to get it done by Christmas so it can be out in time for the film.”

But apparently there’s a question of revenge. “You know how scriptwriters always mess around with your story? I’m going to get revenge by messing around with his.” He seems serious. FIVE PICKS AT MWF

Rob Thomas: Veronica Mars to IZombie.

Thursday, 9pm, Deakin Edge

Annabel Crabb & Kate Grenville: Wives & Mothers

Friday, 7pm, Deakin Edge

Laurie Penny on Feminism

Friday, 5.30pm, Deakin Edge

Mark Latham: Politicians as Journalists

Saturday, 2.30pm, Deakin Edge

Aussie Bestsellers: Liane Moriarty & Graeme Simsion

Sunday, 10am, Deakin Edge


This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Read More &#8594

‘Disgraceful’: parents vent anger at children’s hospital parking costs

Parking remains an issue for parents of sick children being treated at the Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital. Photo: Michelle SmithLady Cilento Children’s Hospital concerns raised in JuneLady Cilento Hospital ‘rushed opening’ findings to guide Sunshine Coast hospital
Nanjing Night Net

Parents unhappy with the cost of parking at the Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital could see some relief in the near future.

The issue has been raging on the Children’s Health Queensland Facebook page since August 3, when the price of parking at the facility increased by $1 per visit.

Parents expressed their anger at having to fork out between $8 and $28 for parking.

“It already costs me $27 to park for my daughter’s monthly medical treatment admission,” wrote Lauren Harrison.

“That’s over $5000 in parking for the next 16 years of her (never going to stop) monthly admissions.”

Commenter Kate Lolive described it as “disgraceful”.

“Having to attend the hospital multiple times a week and also other hospitals and appointments for my daughter with multiple disabilities, the stress of the financial cost and extra stress trying to find street parking or other options available is something that families with sick children don’t need,” she wrote.

The LCCH has more than 2000 car spaces available in the hospital precinct for staff, patients, families and visitors, including 650 in the basement car park and 1500 in the Hancock Street car park.

Both are run by Mater Health Services which sets the price of parking.

In a statement, Mater said its fees were benchmarked against the general area, and all revenue was reinvested in patient care and medical research.

“Mater is aware of the high demand for car parking in the precinct and the anxiety that is caused when parking is difficult to find,” the statement said.

“As a result Mater is working closely with Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital to develop some solutions to ease access to parking for patients and their families and it is hoped these will be able to be implemented in the near future.”

Children’s Health Queensland CEO Fionnagh Dougan said they realised parking was an ongoing area of concern for parents and relatives of sick children.

“The introduction of four-hour parking zones on the Upper and Lower B1 levels of the hospital’s basement car park aims to address this issue and improve access for LCCH families,” she said.

“The four-hour time limit will deem them unsuitable for commuters and workers in the immediate area and nearby South Bank precinct, thereby improving availability for families.”

But parents on Facebook have dismissed the four hour parking zones as hopeful at best.

“What is going to happen if you park there for more than four hours? Are they going to start fining people?” asked Kirsty Butler.

“What if you’re waiting for an appointment and the clinic is running behind? I’ve waited for 2.5 hrs for an ophthalmology appointment for my daughter before as they were running that behind.”

Ms Dougan said the LCCH already provided discounted parking rates for some families experiencing particular hardships.

“These provisions generally assist families of long-term patients, rather than have them incur normal costs for weeks or months of parking,” she said.

But many parents believed the criteria for receiving such support was too limited.

“When I inquired about this, I was told eligibility is being an inpatient for three or more days and holding a health care card,” wrote Cassie Hammond.

“There was no inclusion of outpatient appointments, which for families with a child with chronic and complex care needs are often many and it is often difficult to get appointments on the same day.”

Sharlenn Mizzi accused the LCCH and Mater of profiting off people’s misery.

“We travel 47kms everyday and then pay a nearly $30 in parking fees,” she wrote.

“We have a child who is chronically ill and will be in and out of hospital for years to come. In this admission we have paid close to $400 in parking passes. Queensland Health stop sitting on your hands and sort out this ridiculous situation!”

Parking costs at the Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital: First 30 minutes $830 minutes – 1 hour $141 hour – 2 hours $182 hours – 3 hours $223 hours – 4 hours $244 hours to 24 hours $28Lost ticket $40Unlimited parking permits are available for $72 for three days or $110 for five days. 

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Read More &#8594

Jo-Ann Miller integrity question deflected seven times

Police Minister Jo-Ann Miller is “working hard”, just ask acting Premier Jackie Trad. Photo: Chris HydeSeven times asked, seven times deflected.
Nanjing Night Net

“Working hard” has become the acceptable answer to any question a minister is asked about a colleague, with acting Premier Jackie Trad falling back on Annastacia Palaszczuk’s answer from July 13 in relation to beleaguered Police Minister Jo-Ann Miller.

At that time it was in regards to whether Ms Palaszczuk believed Ms Miller was doing a good job. “She is working very hard,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

On Wednesday, when Ms Trad was asked if she had confidence in Ms Miller despite her referral to the Ethics Committee, it was her turn to use the phrase.

Seven times.

“In relation to Jo-Ann Miller, everybody knows that the issues that have been canvassed of the past day and a half are now before the Ethics Committee as they should be,” she said.

“I am a very good colleague of the Police Minister, Jo-Ann Miller, and can I say the Ethics Committee needs to get on with its job without interference, without speculation, without pre-empting all of their deliberations.

“I’m very happy to say that Jo-Ann Miller is working very hard preparing for Estimates and I work closely with Jo-Ann Miller as I do with every single member of the Palaszczuk Labor Cabinet.”

To say anything else would be to interfere with the Ethics Committee investigation, Ms Trad added.

“The Premier of this state has articulated her position in relation to Jo-Ann Miller and this, quite frankly, is not going to be a circus where everybody standing up is going to comment on whether or not they have confidence in the Police Minister,” she said.

“The Police Minister is entitled to have her matter dealt with by the Ethics Committee in a way which is free from interference, quite frankly.

“I do think it interferes, because obviously this is the basis of the questioning about the matters that are currently before the Ethics Committee.

“Jo-Ann is working hard and I know that she’ll do a great job tomorrow at the Ethics Committee, ah, at the Estimates Committee.  We should just let the Ethics Committee get on with its job.”

But that won’t stop the Opposition from asking about it every day during the estimates hearings, despite successive chairs ruling the questions, which are meant to focus on how the government is spending taxpayer money, continually out of order.

Shadow transport spokesman Scott Emerson said he believed that is what Queenslanders wanted.

“We are determined to make sure we keep the pressure on this government, over these issues of integrity, openness and accountability,” he said.

“This is a scandal of this government that that Police Minister remains in the job and we will continue to question the government on why it is continuing to protect Jo-Ann Miller rather than do the right thing by Queenslanders and sack Jo-Ann Miller.

“I think Queenslanders want us to keep questioning this government over this issue.  They understand that the Police Minister should have no integrity issues about her.”

But perhaps the message was slowly seeping in. Tim Nicholls, after complimenting Ms Trad on her new haircut, stated he had intended to ask about Ms Miller, but believed he already knew what the Chair’s answer would be, when he took the lead questioning role at the estimates hearing less than an hour later.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Read More &#8594

‘Government only to blame’ for Springvale inertia

LITHGOW CFMEU executive Grahame Osbornetold this week’s meeting of Lithgow Council thatblame for the current Springvale Colliery crisisrests squarely with the NSW Government.
Nanjing Night Net

He said it was the government that had blindlyallowed the situation to develop over three yearsthat now meant 300 workers being stood downfrom this week while government agencies procrastinate.

“The government is clearly to blame for this,” hesaid.

Mr Osborne said it appeared there was no onein the government prepared to make a positivedecision.

“We don’t need more conditions and more hearings.

More conditions will mean this will takemonths rather than weeks to resolve,” he warned.

He said the union would seek public support ata mass community rally in Cook Plaza on Saturdayfrom 8.30 am.

He said the action was needed to impress on thegovernment the impact on miners’ wives and families.

“It will be a peaceful rally,” he predicted.

Mr Osborne said invitations ahd been sent toPremier Bair, Environment Minister Stokes (whohas ordered a second PAC hearing), Mines MinisterRoberts and Local Member Paul Toole to attend.

“If the Premier doesn’t care then we must takeLithgow to the Premier,” he said.

“We expect the rally to endorse taking busloadsof locals to Sydney.

“The Premier wanted Lithgow’s support whenhe wanted to sell off our power industry,” he pointedout.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Read More &#8594

Letter to the editor: It’s time for Cr Tony Allen to be censured

Finally, I received a response from the Office of Local Government (OLG) via Bega Valley Shire Council regarding council’s resolution in December last year that “… Cr Allen publicly apologise to Mrs Campbell” and his subsequent refusal to do so.
Nanjing Night Net

Despite previous advice to Council from OLG in February that “Cr Allen is obliged to comply with the council’s resolution requiring him to make an apology in the manner specified in that resolution”, the latest advice says that “decisions made by this office on whether to take disciplinary action under the misconduct provisions of the Local government Act 1993 carry more onerous consequences than those made by council and its conduct reviewers.”

As a result, the OLG have advised that they are unable to accept the evidence provided by the NSW District Court judgement or the independent reviewer and decided that “while it is important that councillors are brought to account for not complying with the resolutions of their councils,” they are not satisfied that “the impost of the required process to achieve that outcome was justified.”

They have written to Cr Allen asking him to reconsider his decision not to provide an apology.

So now the responsibility to enforce their resolution comes back to council as they can and have accepted the evidence of the NSW District Court judgement and the independent reviewer that Cr Allen breached the Code of Conduct by harassing Mrs Campbell and touching her in an inappropriate manner.

There are provisions under the Local Government Act for appropriate censure.

If council were to shirk its duty in this case, there would be a legal precedent for any citizen of Bega Valley Shire Council to ignore any resolution of council with which they may not wish to comply.

Seán Burke,

Central Tilba.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Read More &#8594

Women to get ready for fires

Organiser Tracey Kippin is hoping that following the seminar women can go home, sit down with their families and work out a fire safety plan.Woodanilling is playing host to a special women only seminar to get ready for bushfire season.
Nanjing Night Net

The seminar will cover a range of fire topics from reporting them to bushfire weather to first aid kicking off 9am on Wednesday September 16 in the Woodanilling Pavilion.

“With fire season coming and each fire season getting more serious, women needed to know what the best role is for us to play,” organiser Tracey Kippin said.

The day will include a number of guest speakers including Andriena Ciric, the Community Emergency Services Manager from the Department of Fire and Emergency services to talk about precautions and previous fire seasons.

Neil Bennet from the Bureau of Meteorology will be speaking about the effects of weather on bushfires.

Claire Collis from St John’s Ambulance will be speaking about first aid, in particular fire related injuries and how to respond.

Finally Hayley Patterson will be speaking about her own experiences of burn trauma after an accident last year.

“Finding out about her experience and the emotional side as well as the physical,” Mrs Kippin said.

All are welcome to the seminar Mrs Kippin said, not just those from outlying properties but from town as well, considering bushfires have been known to spread to town centres.

“It’s not just for farm ladies, it’s for town ladies as well,” she said.

Ms Kippin is hoping that following the seminar women can go home, sit down with their families and work out a fire safety plan.

“Come fire time if you’re not prepared it’s too late,” she said.

Tickets $35.00 each including full catering and are available from Shire of Woodanilling, Shire of Wagin or Tracey Kippin. Please advise of dietary requirements when purchasing your ticket.

The seminar is being organised by the Wagin Baptist Church and sponsored by the shires of Wagin and Woodanilling.

For more information on the evening contact Mrs Kippin on 9823 1609.

Read More &#8594

To Madam’s liking

FORMER South Australian ­pacer Modern Madam has an affinity with the City Oval Paceway, having made it two wins from her past four outings with a smart victory in the DNR Logistics Pace at the Mildura trots meeting last Thursday night.
Nanjing Night Net

Modern Madam was confidently driven by in-form Ouyen reinsman Simon Jardine last week at Mildura.

Modern Madam joined the Kate Attard stable at Red Cliffs last month after finishing down the track here on June 19. SA trainer Jill Nielson decided to leave the mare in the district to try and win a Vicbred bonus.

“After her first run here we had her checked out and there were a few little things wrong with her so we ironed them out and she is jumping out of the ground,” Attard said.

Modern Madam won her connections the Wyndown Stud (managed by Geoff Easom) a Vicbred bonus after leading throughout to win here on July 22 for trainer-driver Attard when a short-priced favourite.

“I don’t think I have ever driven a $1.70 favourite before, but she was drawn to lead and did it well to win the bonus,” Attard said.

“Although she won the bonus last month they decided to keep racing her up here until the last meeting in October as the track will be closed for an upgrade after that.”

For more of this story, purchase your copy of Thursday’s Sunraysia Daily 20/8/2015. To subscribe to our Digital Edition Click here

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Read More &#8594

Unite for Kurt campaign will continue with dam-trail run

Unite for Kurt: Former players walked to raise money for Kurt Drysdale. Picture: John VeageORGANISERS were overwhelmed by the support shown to fundraising efforts for Kurt Drysdale last weekend, with more than $60,000 raised for his ongoing care.
Nanjing Night Net

The Cronulla Sharks junior who turned 21 almost two weeks ago is in Royal North Shore Hospital, paralysed from the neck down after he was injured playing for Cabramatta in the Sydney Shield in June.

He has made some progress but is still not able to breathe without assistance.

The NSWRL held the Unite for Kurt round last weekend with clubs raising money for Drysdale through gold-coin entry fees, donations and raffles while Cabramatta players also wore specially designed jerseys.

The Sharks dedicated Monday night’s clash with Melbourne to the Unite for Kurt fundraising effort, with students from Drysdale’s former school, Endeavour Sports High, helping with the collection.

Former Sharks player Alan Wilson organised Small Steps for Kurt with the Men of League Foundation.

Steve Hart and the Allstars alsopresented aRock for Kurt event recently at Heathcote Hotel to raise funds and awareness for the young player.

The walk, which began at Heathcote on Monday morning and finished at Remondis Stadium before kick-off of the Sharks-Storm game, saw league identities help raise about $25,000 for Kurt. Cabramatta are also holding a fundraising dinner on Saturday night hosted by NSW coach Laurie Daley. The Woronora Dam Pipeline trail run on Sunday will also support Unite for Kurt.

Send a good luck message to Kurt and his family via the comment link below the story.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Read More &#8594

LETTERS: Coorabong twin servo puzzle

FEARS: The writer says the community is concerned with potential loss of jobs and businesses that may come with the proposed Cooranbong twin service stations. Picture: Kirk GilmourTHE citizens of Morriset, Dora Creek and Cooranbong are not against good development.
Nanjing Night Net

But the twin service station proposal for Cooranbong (“Businesses concerned over servo”, Lakes Mail, August 6) makes no sense in terms of motorists’ needs for rest, food or ablutions given the multitude of choices available.

We are deeply concerned with the imminent loss of jobs and businesses in our communities because of this proposal.

This is the advice we have from the experts on the various business alliances in our towns.

These business owners have invested in our towns and provided job security for locals.

Of course, the developer’s expert advice that a twin service centre will have minimal impact on local businesses and jobs will not have been sought from any of those peak business groups, and the same I imagine would apply to his advice on noise, water, air, light and particle pollutants which will emanate 24/7 from such a development.

– Jeff Bromage, Cooranbong

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Read More &#8594

Driver banned until 2065 for terrifying behaviour

MANKIND is likely toset foot on Mars decades beforeserial offender Jovo Paul Arnold’s latest driving ban ends in 50 years time, in2065.
Nanjing Night Net

An existing disqualification to 2057 was extended by another eight years in Wagga Local Court on Wednesdayafter the 37-year-old Orange man pleadedguiltyto driving whiledisqualified, dangerous driving, resisting police andtwo counts ofrefusing to submit to a breath test.

Arnold was also jailed until September 29 next year and spend another four months on parole after release.

Appearing in court via video link with the Junee Correctional Centre and representing himself after sacking his lawyer, Arnold wept as he begged for psychological or psychiatric help and rebuffed magistrate Erin Kennedy’s advice that it was in his best interests for Community Corrections to prepare apre-sentence report on him before being sentenced.

“In the past I have told the truth and it got me nowhere, it worked against me so today I just want to get on with it,” Arnold said before reading a prepared statement.

According to undisputedfacts tendered to the court, members of thepublic alerted police to Arnold’s alarming driving behaviour in a luxury BMWX5 heading into Temora on the Junee Road on July 30.

Witnesses said Arnold–towing a boat–drove on the wrong side of the road and has several near misses with other cars and trucks at high speed.

A number of driverspulled off the road becausethey were“extremely fearful” of a collision anda surveyor standing on the side of the road was so scared he bolted.

Police found Arnold weaving on Hoskins Street and approached him when he stopped his car in Park Street outside the Railway Hotel.

“As police got up to the vehicle they could smell the overpowering scent of intoxicating liquor coming from the vehicle,” the facts said.

A person who had encountered Arnold on the road came up to police and said:“I’m glad you got him. I thought he was gunna kill someone. He was doing at least 180km/h on the Wagga road.”

An open bottle of beer was in the car’s centre console and a carton lay open on the front passenger seat.

After being stopped by police, Arnold abused them, refused breath tests, would not tell them his name, resisted being handcuffedand stripped himself naked in the cells of Wagga police station.

Arnold’s traffic record includes multiple driving bans for drink-driving and driving while disqualified going back 15 years.

He has been jailed before for these crimes.

In court, Arnold cried as he begged for help to“settle my stupidity down”and spoke of the damage he was doing to his wife and two children.

“They can’t rely on me and be proud of me,” Arnold said.

“I keep doing stupid things.

“I can’t provide for them in jail.

“It’s clear I can’t deal with this myself.

“Can the court help me to find someone?”

In sentencing Arnold, Ms Kennedy described his behaviour on July 30 as extreme in the face of someone who is not a driver for all sorts of reasons.

According to the facts, Arnold refused to undertake breath tests three times at the Wagga police station.

Police said he three replies were“No, I won’t”, Not the way I’ve been treated” and“No way, you didn’t say please, so no”.

Arnold will be 87 before he can apply for a new licence.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Read More &#8594

Swans boost AFL grassroots footy – hooray!

Kicking goals: Waratah Park, Sutherland, is the headquarters for AFL in Sutherland Shire. Players, officials and mayor Kent Johns and federal and state MPs turned out for the big announcement on Saturday. Picture: Jane DysonSYDNEY Swans AFL Club have strong ties with Sutherland Shire and news of the major upgrade to Waratah Park is expected to provide a pathway for the game’s future stars.
Nanjing Night Net

The code overall will get a significant kick ahead with $1.5 million to be spent on Waratah Park, Sutherland, the sport’s new regional headquarters for juniors and open-age teams.

The announcement was made on Saturday morning at Waratah Park.

The Sydney Swans have had several shire-based players play premiership football.

Midfielder Lloyd Perris, 20, is a Cronulla Sharks junior who came through the Swans Academy and played grade football for St George.

Others first-graders include Nick Davis, a 2005 Sydney Swans premiership winner who had played for Ramsgate.

He has returned to Sutherland Shire and lives at Sylvania. Davis is working in development with the Swans.

Former Swans skipper Dennis Carroll, now 55, is from Lilli Pilli.

He looks after player welfare with the Swans.

Perris, who went to Woolooware High School, grew up at Woolooware, praised the funding for the game.

“It’s fantastic to be back in the shire where I grew up and where I played my junior football,” Perris said.

“To hear that Waratah Park will become the hub of AFL football in Sydney’s south is great, especially with the potential for programs like the Sydney Swans Academy to come out and runsessions here.

‘‘I am sure there will be plenty of kids drawn towards AFL by what’s on offer at the revamped Waratah Park.

‘‘I can’t wait to return when the works are completed to have a kick around.’’

The AFL playing fields are used already but the major funding announcement on Saturday secured the code’s future in the region.

AFL NSW/ACT chief executive Sam Graham said it was the ‘‘ biggest single investment to infrastructure the AFL has ever made in the region’’.

‘‘The works will be highlighted by new change rooms with a host of new amenities, a revamped playing surface and lights, new fencing around the ground, and safer pedestrian access,’’ Graham said.

Graham said Waratah Park will become the home of AFL in Sydney’s south, with the ground’s capacity increasing from 190 to 580 players.

Mayor Kent Johns said: ‘‘It’s great to see the local clubs, the AFL and the council working together to support the growth of the sport, the real winners are the children and the heroes are the mums and dads who raised the money and set up for the games every weekend.’’

Miranda Bombers and Southern Power clubs will be based there.

Graham was joined on Saturday at the announcement by Sutherland mayor Kent Johns, Social Services Minister Scott Morrison, Sydney Swans player Lloyd Perris, Heathcote MP Lee Evans, upper house state MP John Ajaka and Miranda MP Eleni Petinos.

Sydney Swans general manager-football Tom Harley said the entire code was a winner.

“We’re really excited about the Waratah Park upgrade which will provide a first-class facility for community football teams,’’ Harley said.

Are you excited about the boost to the sport?

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Read More &#8594

A dog gone doggy fight over Memorial Walk

Francesca Jenkins-Iles walks her dog Billie. Below, signs prohibit dogs on the walk.DOG owners are set to fight the ban of their best friends from Newcastle’s Memorial Walk.
Nanjing Night Net

Newcastle City Council has launched a four-week campaign to clear the cliff-top walk of dogs in the wake of complaints that dog-owners were flouting the ban that has been in place since the bridge opened earlier this year.

One Newcastle Herald reader wrote, in a letter to the editor, that she had seen 40-50 dogs on the bridge in the space of an hour. The council has erected more prominent signs and warned of fines of $329.

‘‘This walk is a memorial to the men and women from the Hunter that served in World War I. As a mark of respect dogs are not permitted on the Memorial Walk,’’ a council spokesperson said.

‘‘The location of the walk poses logistical difficulties for council crews to access the walkway to wash down the deck or to service waste receptacles as we do on the road-side paths.’’

But the 358-member Dog Lovers Social Group, Central Coast and Newcastle is preparing to challenge the dog-free zone.

The group is working on a petition to council, arguing dogs and their owners should be given the chance to enjoy the walk.

‘‘Maybe they could impose harsher penalties for people who don’t do the right thing, rather than banning everyone,’’ group organiser Michelle Pounder said.

Mikaela Dombkins’ great-grandfather served in World War I but she cannot see his name on the Memorial Walk when she walks her dog, Izabel.

Ms Dombkins, of Newcastle, said she was shocked by the new signs at the Strzlecki entrance to the walk. ‘‘It’s stupid, you wouldn’t think anyone would object to them being up there – particularly in Newcastle when so many people have dogs,’’ she said.

‘‘It’s not as if the floor has holes in it and their paws could get stuck, it’s safe for a dog to walk on it.’’

Owners have argued that dogs were involved in wars too but the RSL said the ban should not be lifted.

Newcastle RSL sub branch president Ken Fayle said no veteran would find it acceptable for dogs to be on the walk.

Mr Fayle, also a trustee on the Memorial Walk Trust, said he didn’t think anyone could hold their pet back when ‘‘nature urges it to go whenever and wherever they feel like it’’.

‘‘They are desecrating people who have gone before us,’’ Mr Fayle said. ‘‘It is a dedicated, living memorial and we don’t want dogs on it.’’

Walk architect Barney Collins is owner of two labradors and an avid dog walker.

He said the main issue with dogs was the risks posed by confined space.

If two dogs were coming in opposite directions and a fight broke out there would be nowhere for kids or others to go, Mr Collins said.

‘‘I have no issue with dogs being near memorials,’’ Mr Collins said.

‘‘But if dog owners allowed dogs to urinate on the memorial signage, I think that is a big issue. That is disrespectful.’’

Bar Beach resident Matthew Sullivan doesn’t have a dog but said he wouldn’t care if they were on the path – as long their owners cleaned up after them.

‘‘I don’t think the Diggers would have had a problem with it,’’ he said.

Merewether resident Karin Marshall says dogs should be allowed.

‘‘Most of the people who walk are the people who have dogs,’’ she said.

‘‘The whole point in having a dog is so you can exercise and by restricting where you can take dogs it is stopping people from having healthy habits,’’ she said.

But Gavin, of Merewether, who did not wish to give his surname, approved of the ban, saying it was awful to see droppings on the bridge.

‘‘Partly because it’s a memorial and it’s just such a lovely facility. I don’t want to see it spoiled by a bad few who might not pick up after their dogs.’’

Another Merewether resident, who did not wish to be named but whose miniature schnauzer was among the first to walk on the bridge when it opened, was ‘‘pretty annoyed’’ and disappointed to find his dog was prohibited.

‘‘It’s not some sort of sacred site. It’s not a war memorial.

‘‘It’s a bridge.

‘‘I’ve got several relatives that have done plenty of service for the country and they would think it was totally ridiculous,’’ he said.

Dog owner Francesca Jenkins-Iles said it was disappointing that her dog Billie was banned. ‘‘I’d love to be able to walk up there but I’m always with my dog,’’ she said, as she walked on the footpath below.

‘‘I can understand it is a memorial that was built in memory of the Anzacs – but dogs did fight in the war too.’’

Read More &#8594

Ride for Sick Kids rolls into Wodonga

RIDING FOR A CAUSE: Ride for Sick Kids committee members Darren Cowell, Gerrie Richardson, Chris Carroll, Howard Armitage, Nick Newton, Tully Lyster, Jason Wall, Anthony Nigro and Brett Tooley. Picture: MARK JESSER
Nanjing Night Net

BORDER families with sick children are being looked after.

Not just by the Ronald McDonald Family Room at Wodonga Hospital, but also by those participating in the RMHC Ride for Sick Kids.

More than 30cyclists rolled through the Border yesterday, completing their 450-kilometre ride, which started in Mildura,for the fifth year in a row.

Ride for Sick Kids chairman Brett Tooley said over the years more than $2 million had been donated, $500,000 of which was raised duringthis year’s journey.

Wodonga’s Ronald McDonald Family Room co-ordinator Karen Trenchard said the Wodonga service was part of the Ronald McDonald House in Parkville.

Ms Trenchard said additional funding would help the Wodonga family room continue its service for Borderfamilies with sick children.

She said funding given toRonald McDonald Houses in Melbourne would also help support families from the Border who had to travel for their child’s care.

GRATEFUL: Wodonga’s Ronald McDonald Family Room co-ordinator Karen Trenchard says funding will help continue services for families with sick children.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Read More &#8594